“Football has given me everything I have," said Mel Tucker, after being introduced as Michigan State's next football coach The Detroit News
Mel Tucker was introduced as Michigan State’s new football coach during a 50-minute press conference at Breslin Center on Wednesday night.
Michigan State's Board of Trustees unanimously approved Tucker to become the university's next football coach on Wednesday, making him the 25th man to helm of the program.
Tony Paul and Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News provided live updates throughout the press conference.
Mel Tucker and wife Jo-Ellyn got engaged in East Lansing about 23 years ago.
"We're super excited to come back where it all began," she said. "We can't wait to get get here, the boys and I, just becoming a part of the community.
"We're going to hit the ground running."
Jo-Ellyn called Mel "the fearless leader of our family."
"The guy we just love to death," she said. "We would follow him anywhere."
Welcome from Izzo
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, also part of the search process, spoke to the crowd, calling the university a "family affair."
"I'm going to be here for you, your wife, and your family, whatever you need," Izzo said. "It does take a group of people to be a champion."
Izzo may be a basketball coach, but he loves his football.
"Basketball is my second sport," he quipped. "It's funny but it's the truth."
Expectations don't change
Linebacker Antjuan Simmons was part of the search committee and spoke Wednesday night.
"The head of the program changes, but the expectations don't," Simmons said. "We still have the same expectations for this program and we're going to play hard.
Simmons also gave a nod to Dantonio, calling him "the best coach ever."
Athletic director Bill Beekman led the search committee for MSU's next coach, and the first man he introduced was Mel Tucker.
Beekman said Tucker "shares our passion and our vision for Spartan football."
"Fit here is critical," Beekman said, adding he was looking "first and foremost for a person of character, person of passion for MSU."
Beekman met with Tucker on Friday in Colorado. Tucker spent one season as Colorado's head coach, and has a two-decades-plus coaching career that spans college and the NFL.
One big party
Wednesday night's scene at Breslin Center was more like a pep rally, with the band and cheerleaders.
President Samuel Stanley opened with remarks, citing a "new era of MSU football."
"I'm excited about his energy and positive enthusiasm," Stanley said of Tucker.
Stanley also recognized previous football coach Mark Dantonio, leading the crowd in a round of applause, "for taking our program to the next level."
"He's setting a high bar for Mel Tucker," said Stanley, "but one I think Coach Tucker is ready to meet."
Stanley noted Feb. 12 is Founders Day, or MSU's birthday. It's also the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who signed the land-grant legislation.
Stanley noted few things bring a school together more than "sports."
Board president Dianne Byrum also spoke at the press conference.
"We're confident we have the right leader to take us forward," Byum said.
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